Monday, March 22, 2010

Growing up pretty...

I had quite the interesting conversation with a close friend yesterday. It was so eye opening!! At some point I hope to be able to explain my heart on the matter eloquently, but here is my first shot:

We were discussing body image and womanhood. I have not yet disclosed this on my blog, but it is another quite significant part of who I am. I have battled anorexia for over 10 years now. Over the past year or so I have had a relapse and I am currently working my way back to a healthy weight. I argue to my boyfriend that my eating disorder is not about image. I say this because to me, it seems to be a coping mechanism, and unlike in my past, I do not usually view myself as being fat. I still cannot figure out why I will starve myself and think of my looks so much when I know I am thin. Well, my friend said to me yesterday, "It is hard not to think of your looks all the time when you 'grow up pretty.'" This statement really rang true to me. When I think back on my life, I have never thought of myself as much better looking than your average young woman, but since I can remember, people have remarked on my beauty and thin figure. I was always told I was beautiful and I had a "perfect body," once puberty hit. I was even voted "Best Physique'" by my high school senior class ten years ago. I mention this because I had a realization that I think of my looks so often because in some ways I have been "known for" my looks. It is not what I chose, it is what I was handed. I am not complaining nor am I boasting; this is just simple fact. So at times I am thinking, "what if I am not pretty anymore? what if I am no longer the thin one?"

I speak often about how I want to be known for my heart. For my kindness, integrity, generosity and loyal friendships. And I try to think that way, but those image thoughts continue to enter my head. This really helps me when  I think of possibly having the opportunity and blessing of raising a daughter someday. What if she's naturally beautiful and thin? What if she isn't? Well, either way, it is so imperative that I always compliment her heart and her attitude. It will be my responsibility to make sure he self worth is founded on how God sees her, and on how she sees herself from the inside out. This is something I am striving to work on and be concious of as I compliment others'.

What are your thoughts on this?


  1. Most experts agree that anorexia is more about control than body image. Often but not always the sufferer also has a warped body image. Good luck conquering yours.

    ~ICLW #31

  2. Very interesting! I think you're right -- when you "grow up pretty" (or smart, or funny, etc.), it becomes a part of your identity. An integral part of your self-worth, really. And a fear of straying from that is to be expected. Really interesting observation!

    Good luck with your battle. A couple of women that are very dear to my heart have battled eating disorders their whole lives and I know it is very hard for them, and about more than food. Hugs!

  3. I have always had friends who the rest of the world would label as "odd" or "geeky". I LOVED to date the nerdy boys in high school. Why? Because they were the sweetest and most genuine. I have always said looks aren't everything, and that it is WHO we are that matters most. I love that you strive to teach your daughter to compliment people on who they are and see them for who they are, rather than what they look like.

    It is interesting how your aneorxia was formed by how people saw you, rather than how you see you. I hope you are able to overcome the fight and win once again.

    Best wishes and hugs

  4. Fascinating post. I am dealing with an aspect of what you're talking about. As a dancer, my body image has always been influenced by a fitness component and not being able to dance recently has taken a toll on how I see myself both in my body shape (I'm not toned at the moment) and movement (my flexibility is crap). It hit me harder than I thought and made me think about how I can age gracefully... :) On the other hand, I was always the smart one - the youngest in my grad school and doctorate class - and now, I don't feel that smart anymore. I sometimes miss being special and I was in a bit of a funk because of it. I'm combatting that at the moment by trying to keep myself busy and learning new things...